Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Usually I’m not keen on themeless grids packed with 7-letter answers, because too often they’re loaded with dullness. Today’s constructor treats us to plenty of zippy fill in the 7 range, though. B.J. NOVAK, LUDDITE (… not technically “zippy,” I suppose), DAD JOKE, SWAGGER, CAKE MIX, RICO ACT, RISOTTO, CTHULHU, NOXZEMA, “AMIRITE?,” CAPTCHA, EAT IT UP, GO GREEN, and KEEBLER? I approve! “BUT NO” is also kinda fun.
- 8a. [Co-star of “The Office” who played Ryan Howard], B.J. NOVAK. I met him at a book signing, where the line was filled with young women who were skipping class or work to meet him. One More Thing is a collection of mostly very short stories, so I had time to read several of the stories (which tend to be funny in an odd way) while waiting. When I reached the author’s table, I said I was impressed that he’d included the word leporid in one story. “Oh, did you know that word?,” he asked. He’d had to look it up in order to use it in the book. *sad trombone*
- 26a. [Miss], GIRL. Ugh, “miss.”
- 29a. [“No ___ can live forever”: Martin Luther King Jr.], LIE. Great quote. Man, I hope that’s true.
- 33a. [Bravado], SWAGGER. The constructor is young. I bet he had a different clue here.
- 37a. [Speed of sound], MACH ONE. Eww, spelled out number. Two of this answer’s crossings have “one” in their clue, which is just further poking the hornet’s nest.
- 56a. [“Delta of Venus” author], NIN. That book’s got some steamy tales. No leporid, though.
- 12d. [Rendering useless], VOIDING. Why do I have to pee suddenly?
Nice clues for 39d and 41d, too.
4.25 stars from me. Nice themeless debut from this constructor.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth
The theme concept is formulaic, but very well executed. The letter addition has a clever revealer, telling us that AS is NECESSARY; and the created phrases create strong, if outlandish, images.
The 11/14/15/14/11 theme pattern forced our constructor into an imbalanced grid, with 40 squares, but only 72 words – significantly increasing the difficulty of landing the fill. So some odd plurals are encountered and a few chestnuts like both ECLAT and ELAN show up, as do a few awkward partial phrases…
The best moment outside of the theme was YODA clued as [Small figure wielding much force?]
The SW was tricky — I think of AMIRITE being used only in an ironic or sarcastic sense, so I had trouble connecting it with the clue. Didn’t help that I put in the dreaded IRANI before OMANI — my bad. And is it SASHA or SACHA?
Nice to see JOULE. But a science demerit for OXIDATE. It exists, apparently, as a synonym for oxidize, but it’s far less common and mostly archaic, as far as I can tell.
On another science note, it was in the back of my mind that the reference to weather maps in the clue for HEATMAP seemed inaccurate, and lo, our friend wikipedia indicates that “heatmap” originated and is almost always used in other contexts.
NYT was a winner today!
I thought the clue for X’S AND O’S could have been a bit more interesting. Apparently it is another word for tic-tac-toe (a game that has had a decidedly negative effect on puzzle fill!) but it’s also a metonymic term for sports strategy, as in “that coach is a good recruiter and the players like her, but she’s not much for the X’s and O’s.”
The British name for tic-tac-toe is noughts and crosses, but I don’t know that anyone would write it as X’s and O’s.
This puzzle really kicked me in the behind. Took me double my average time to solve, and I have to admit, I had to turn to the Web to get CTHULHU, as I’m not at all familiar with H.P. Lovecraft’s work. (Still trying to figure out how you pronounce “Cthulhu”.)
But I guess that just comes with the territory for a puzzle like this with so many interesting entries. Some of them definitely expanded my horizons, which is something a great crossword will do.
Time now to go find some H.P Lovecraft stories to download onto my Kindle app.
I love nitpicking, and I could find only two problems with this one: Miss = GIRL, and ASTARTE. That’s it. What an outstanding job, despite being filled with (understatement) 7-letter answers which always scare me before I begin the puzzle.
With only a few puzzles in the NYT, Mr. Charlson has proven his talents to me. 4.6 stars from me.
Really battled in the bottom-left. No idea on RICOACT, and RIOTACT fits the clue perfectly… CTHULHU was easy to get, but hard to spell. HEATMAP and CAPTCHA were equally opaque as was OUT – tried to shoehorn RAN there. Nothing added up.
I filled in RIOT ACT first, but the T of RIOT wasn’t working with the crossing. RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which mainly targets the Mob and other organized criminal gangs. “The mob” vs. “a mob” here.
Do I vaguely recall the the RICO act has been used for nefarious purposes far different than the original intent? I seem to recollect it being used by powerful organizations to stifle dissent.
It did not help that I spelled Sacha with a second S.
LAT: ECLAT and ELAN? ARAL and URALS (crossing, no less)?
Any comments on today’s Chronicle puzzle “Serving Up a Challenge” (by Jules Markey)?
Yes, I liked the Chronicle puzzle. Still have the line “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah” running through my head. ;_)
Can you please explain CCC as an answer to 1/5 of MD?
Roman numerals. 1500/5=300.